Sidewalk maker: J. H. Fitzmaurice

The J. H. Fitzmaurice company is nearing its hundredth year in Oakland. Everywhere you go, you’ll see its distinctive sidewalk stamps, even though the firm appears to have stopped using it some 50 years ago.


The firm was incorporated in 1922 by John Herbert Fitzmaurice, who lived at 698 Walavista Avenue at the time. Fitzmaurice was born 31 January 1889 in California and died on 3 November 1957.

The 1915 through 1917 directories listed him as an employee of the Ransome Crummey Company, so he was well equipped by experience to run his own firm. About this time he married Emma Helen Heavey and started a family.

Previous to 1922 Fitzmaurice was a landscaping and paving company, and that remained the firm’s bread and butter for many years. This was its earliest stamp. I’ve found a half-dozen surviving examples, none of which were dated. These may even have predated incorporation.


The earliest stamp with a date is this one, the first barrel-shaped stamp to be used in Oakland. The design quickly became very popular, and today it’s still the default.


I’ve found three other designs. Their dates overlap somewhat, which leads me to believe that each crew used its stamp until it broke or wore out or was lost. Here they are, in the order that makes the most sense to me.



Then there’s the classic stamp. I have found a single dated example, with a hand-drawn “1952” next to it. But there are thousands of these all over town, none of them on recent concrete.


John’s son, John Jr., worked for the company but eventually moved on to run the Alta Building Material Company, in Oakland (now a local branch of family-owned Westside Building Material). The Fitzmaurice firm remained in family hands until quite recently. In 2014 Tim Fitzmaurice turned over the reins to Mohammad Hakimi, and the firm sails on. I always meant to knock on their door and ask about the old days — see if any of the old stamps are still lying around.

One Response to “Sidewalk maker: J. H. Fitzmaurice”

  1. Heather Says:

    I used to work at JHF from 2004 to 2011 and remember many great pictures on the wall from when flatwork (paving, grading) was their main work. Tim Fitzmaurice was proud of the family legacy, but ready to hand over reins to business partner by 2014, end of an era.

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